Last April, Indian superstar actor Shah Rukh Khan released a film called "Fan". It cost a pile of money to make, and didn't do too well at the box office. Reviews were mixed. People who expected another masala entertainer, or a passionate love story, or a fast-paced action movie (all of which Khan has done, and done spectacularly) were not sure what to make of this dark, even creepy story about a fan so obsessed with his superstar lookalike that he tries to destroy him. Haters in the comment sections called it a flop and declared that the fifty-year old actor was now a has been.
I saw "Fan" five times in two weeks. Twice by myself, then one time each with three different friends, all new to Hindi cinema. They were blown away by the story and by Khan's performance. Shah Rukh Khan plays both parts, aided by top-notch special effects and his own physical ability to embody a twenty-five-year-old's energy in his own battered but still very fit frame. There were even people who walked out of theaters singing the praises of "that guy who plays Gaurav", not realizing it was Khan.
A year later, "Fan" still fascinates me. I own it now, in fact. Shah Rukh Khan occasionally refers to it in interviews in a sad, self-deprecating way, as if it were his own personal Edsel. I hope he is kidding. I hope he knows that, box office be damned, it was a risk worth taking. “Fan” is that odd kid from high school that you can’t get out of your mind. And then you meet him thirty years later and he’s so interesting and so attractive that you kick yourself for not hanging out more with him when he was fifteen.
"Fan" may be underappreciated now, but it will be remembered among Shah Rukh Khan's very best works, and certainly as one of his most interesting.